In addition to measuring participation through civic engagement, SWMENA survey respondents were asked a series of questions about their participation in the June 2009 municipal elections, which is a more direct form of political participation. Respondents were also asked about their opinions about policy priorities for elected officials and the main factors driving their voting choices.
- Survey results indicate that women’s participation in the municipal elections in June 2009 was lower than men’s. Indeed, 45% of surveyed women report having cast a vote in the June 2009 municipal elections versus a higher proportion of men (57%) who voted in these elections (Figure 12). This means that the majority of Moroccan women (54%) did not participate in the June 2009 municipal elections and that there is a gender gap in voter participation in Morocco.
- When looking at women’s voter turnout by urban and rural settlements, we find that women in rural areas (51%) are more likely to vote that women in urban areas (40%) (Figure 13). The same pattern is observed for men.
- It is also noteworthy that women’s participation in the elections is higher for those with no formal education than it is for women with a primary edcuation or higher. Indeed, while a majority (54%) of women with no education have participated in the municipal elections, only one-third of women with a primary education or higher have participated in these elections. Voter turnout is in fact at its lowest level for those with a secondary education or higher (31%). The same relationship holds for men.
- The data also shows that as women’s income levels increase, their levels of voter participation drops steadily. The majority of women in the low income category (56%) reported voting in the municipal elections compared with only 28% of women in the upper income categories. This suggests that the least educated and the poorest of women tend to turn out in higher numbers to the elections as they are easier to influence by political parties who often target them and pressure them to sway their votes. Meanwhile, women who are well-off and highly educated have the lowest voter turnout. This may be an indication that as women’s education levels increase, their skepticism regarding the effectiveness of political representation increases as well.
- When looking at women’s voter turnout by age groups, we find that women 35-54 are the most likely to vote while those 18-24 are the least likely to vote. Only 22% of women 18-24 report voting in the municipal elections compared with 42% of women 25-34, 56% of women 35-44 and 60% of women 45-54.
- Respondents who reported not casting a vote in the June 2009 municipal election were asked to provide the main reason why they didn’t vote. The most frequently cited reason by both women (38%) and men (31%) is not being registered to vote. Several women (10%) mention not being intereseted in elections or politics as their reason for not voting. The third most frequently cited reason by women is being out of town or country when elections happened. This was mentioned by 9% of women. This is followed by being busy (7%), sick (6%), and problems with the voting card (5%).
- As for men, the main reasons for not voting (except for the first reason) are slightly different from those mentioned by women. The second most cited reason is not supporting any candidate or party (15%), followed by the belief that all politicians are corrupt or bad (12%). This shows that two of the three top reasons men cite for not voting relate to their critical opinion of politicicans, which means that they voluntarily chose not to vote whereas for women, two of the top three reasons for not voting stem from circumstances that are out of their control (Figure 14).